¿Habla español? - Southwark Diocese launches ‘Latino’ ministry
The Diocese of Southwark is involved in an exciting new mission initiative to provide Spanish language Anglican services for the growing number of Latin Americans in the Borough of Southwark. The Revd Hugo Adan Fernández, Assistant Curate at St Laurence, Catford and the Revd John Watson, Vicar at St Barnabas, Dulwich have been working with a small latino group and there have now been three services organised which have been entirely in Spanish. The first service, in November 2015, was attended by 25 people and there have been services in December and January too with the number attending growing to 30-35 people - and there has already been a request for a baptism! The services take place at St Philip & St Mark, Avondale Square, Camberwell with the permission and encouragement of the Bishop of Woolwich.
The Revd John Watson says, “Holding a service in Spanish is an incredible sign of hospitality for the local Spanish speaking population. This new form of mission on our doorstep is just one way we can support this wonderful community, who are so often ignored and overlooked in areas of huge urban development.”
The Archdeacon of Southwark, the Venerable Dr Jane Steen, says, ‘This is an exciting new initiative which demonstrates our commitment to seeking to be the Church in the most appropriate way for people in our communities today.’
Spanish is now recognised as Southwark Borough’s second most spoken language with 8.9% of the population of the Borough identifying themselves as Latin American (LA) - this is about 8,000 people. This does not include Spanish speakers from Europe. The Elephant and Castle has become a focus for LA business with over 80 shops and a business group called Latin Quarter formed to represent their needs. The LA population of London as a whole has increased to over 120,000 and growing.
A number of exciting developments have happened as a result of the services:
- a Facebook page has been created and now has 54 members
- the Revd John Watson and the Revd Hugo Adan Fernándezhave received an invitation to appear on local Latin American radio and internet TV
- adverts and an article have appeared in a Latin American newspaper for London
- musicians are being organised
- contact has been made with the Episcopal Church USA with the Revd Isaias Rodriguez, based with Atlanta Diocese and part of the Hispanic Ministries of the Episcopal Church. An invitation has been offered for a visit to the Hispanic Ministries Conference in the USA.
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